Textbooks Crisis


Every now and then, an overenthusiastic PTI spokesperson jumps in front of cameras and toots the horn about how rivers of honey flow across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The success story of the blue-eyed education department was trumpeted far and wide to change policies and personnel in all provinces not so long ago.
However, this self-touted success in guaranteeing the constitutionally-given right to free education to all children starts tearing at the seams whenever trivial rows with the finance department make it to the front page.
In the latest twist, over 444,000 students in elementary and secondary schools are expected to learn their lessons without any textbooks because the treasury does not believe in funding the cause.
A scheme introduced by the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal to encourage the strength, especially of female students, in schools, had earlier raised a few eyelids over repeated instances of textbooks intended for free distribution being found for trading in the open market.
But the misdoings of some black sheep aside, such funded initiatives have played an instrumental role in uplifting literary growth in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which is quite unexpectedly leading the way in all related indicators.
How can we expect similar–if not better–performance next year when students have been sent home for summer break without any assignments? Alarm bells have already begun to ring over the looming paper crisis wherein the paper association has raised its hands in utter resignation.
There wouldn’t be enough resources to print new textbooks in Sindh, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the writing on the wall is screaming out loud to anyone who would listen. But critically trapped between the falling curve of last academic year and stumbling blocks ready to welcome the new season are hapless students, who can only look towards the heavens for a much-needed miracle.
Because while those going to the private sector might be forced to find whatever way possible to pay for an exuberantly-charged curriculum, students in government schools would not even have the choice no matter how dedicated they may be.